Where to Go Next: San Francisco

New in the Bay Area: a great market that doubles as a butcher shop, a Spanish charcuterie specialist, an intimate Roman restaurant, and more.

Spruce

After making a name for himself at the Village Pub near Silicon Valley, Mark Sullivan (an F&W Best New Chef 2002) has opened a new place in San Francisco. His expansive restaurant in Presidio Heights—in a vast space that was once a storage spot for Model T cars—plays to the area’s society set. Sullivan’s indulgent menu includes butter-poached lobster with gnocchi and braised lettuce, and a bavette steak with a rich bordelaise sauce and a side order of duck-fat fries. 3640 Sacramento St.; 415-931-5100 or sprucesf.com.

SPQR

San Francisco’s hottest new restaurant, a narrow, no-reservations place on Fillmore, gets its name from the letters stamped on manhole covers and government buildings in Italy’s capital (SPQR is an abbreviation for Senatus Populusque Romanus, or “the Senate and people of Rome”). Chef Nate Appleman (who also cooks at A16) offers irresistible fried snacks, like lemony sweetbreads with celery and garlic, as well as pastas, like the classic cacio e pepe dressed with pecorino cheese and black pepper, made with a choice of spaghetti or rigatoni. The list of affordable and hard-to-find Italian wines was assembled by A16’s co-owner and sommelier, Shelley Lindgren. 1911 Fillmore St.; 415-771-7779 or spqrsf.com.

Laïola

This energetic Spanish tapas bar and restaurant is the latest effort from former 42 Degrees chef Mark Denham. House-cured meats, such as fuèt (a sweet Catalan-style pork sausage) and lomito (smoky, dry-cured pork tenderloin), are wonderful with the all-Spanish wines and well-made house cocktails. So are appetizers like grilled octopus with shelling beans or quail with candied kumquats and dates, as well as entrées such as steak finished with Cabrales butter. 2031 Chestnut St.; 415-346-5641 or laiola.com.

1300 on Fillmore

At his elegant place in the newly revived Fillmore Jazz District, David Lawrence serves Southern-inflected food, frying shrimp in a crisp hush-puppy crust and adding bourbon to a pork-belly braise. The chef, who trained with the famed Roux brothers in London, has his French technique down, too; he expertly pairs foie gras with huckleberry gastrique and onion jam. 1300 Fillmore St.; 415-771-7100 or 1300fillmore.com.

Serpentine

The iconic San Francisco restaurant Slow Club now has a sister spot in the city’s next hot restaurant hood, Dogpatch (also the location for the upcoming place from the A16 team). Here, just south of the Giants ballpark, chef Chris Kronner offers a new menu daily, emphasizing local ingredients. He adds crescent potatoes and green garlic to his duck stew, tops lamb riblets with a feta-mint salsa verde—and makes one of the best burgers in San Francisco. 2495 Third St.; 415-252-2000 or serpentinesf.com.

Bar Jules

The first restaurant for Jessica Boncutter, who used to cook at Hog Island Oyster Company and Zuni Café, is a brightly colored one in Hayes Valley. Her sharply focused menu includes four to five starters—such as scallop carpaccio with fennel and oranges—and two entrées, including delicious striped bass with artichoke-chickpea ragout. 609 Hayes St.; 415-621-5482 or barjules.com.

Napa Valley

Ubuntu

This new spot is both a serious restaurant and an estimable yoga studio. Jeremy Fox, a former chef de cuisine at Manresa, prepares a sophisticated vegetarian menu that highlights ingredients from Ubuntu’s biodynamic garden. Dishes like buttery potato puree with truffle sauce and wild-nettle pizza are popular with the local winemakers who fill the dining room’s long communal table. 1140 Main St., Napa; 707-251-5656.

BarBersQ

This might be one of the few barbecue joints in the country with Riedel glassware and $250 wines. Chef Stephen Barber has a way with pork, as evidenced by his excellent slow-cooked pork ribs, smoky pulled-pork sandwiches and St. Louis spareribs; the accompanying collard greens are from the restaurant’s garden. 3900 D Bel Aire Plaza, Napa; 707-224-6600.

New Ingredient Mecca

Avedano’s Holly Park Market Founded by three food-industry veterans (Tia Harrison, Melanie Eismann and Angela Wilson), this specialty grocery is located in a Bernal Heights butcher shop dating back to the early 1900s. These days the store features organic lamb from Sonoma and Berkshire pork, as well as wild local halibut and locally foraged mushrooms. Harrison, who is the chef at Sociale, heads up the charcuterie section and house-cures the bacon. Avedano’s is also becoming one of the city’s most sought-after caterers, with offerings like roast suckling pig. 235 Cortland Ave.; 415-285-6328.

Too Soon to Review

Fifth Floor

Laurent Manrique—the chef at nearby Aqua—has created a menu of dishes inspired by his native Gascony, like crispy duck confit. He’s also serving traditional Bordelaise breads, including pain au vin flavored with wine. 12 Fourth St.; 415-348-1555.

Camino

After 21 years at Chez Panisse, Russell Moore is launching his own place on a sleepy stretch in Oakland. He plans to make most dishes in the dining room’s huge stone fireplace, roasting lamb’s leg à la ficelle (hung by a string) and cooking coils of house-made sausages over the coals. 3917 Grand Ave., Oakland; 510-547-5035.

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Published April 2008

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